Melissa's last year included 8 months of sobriety where she enjoyed life as much as possible. She spent as much time with her beloved niece, Brynn, and nephew, Ethan. Her birthday in July was so memorable as she celebrated her first sober birthday in years with a pool party with her entire family. She went skydiving with her siblings, Shandra and Zachary.
Melissa struggled with depression and anxiety as a young child and throughout her life. She sought relief through substances. Even though growing up was difficult, she enjoyed many things in life. She loved animals - especially her cats. She would treat them like dolls and dress them up in doll clothes and play house with them. She loved to ride her bike and scooter and play gymnastics outside in the summer with her neighborhood friends. Our family went to Disney World when she was in 4th grade and she soaked up every bit of Disney that she could. She wore her mickey mouse ears the entire time.
As Melissa got older, the substance use made it harder for her to do the normal things that children do - sports, friends, and school. Melissa had many attempts at sobriety, trying multiple rehabs. She kept trying and showed that she really wanted a different life for herself. In February 2017, she made her last attempt at sobriety and went to live at a sober living house. She had 8 wonderful months of sobriety that included much time with family and friends. I will cherish these times with Melissa forever.